Saying Goodbye to an Old Friend
It’s weird calling a building a friend but in many ways it was. I grew up less than 3 miles from the Nassau Coliseum. The Islanders and the Nets of the American Basketball Association, prior to the merger of some teams into the NBA, were the occupants of the state of the art building in 1972.
I began listening to Islander games on the radio when I went to bed, as I did the Met games during baseball season. Back then, those seasons hardly overlapped. I had a poster of Dr. J, Julius Erving on my wall. Our town recreation department would have $3 and $6 tickets to every weekend day game. We went to events at the Coliseum more than we went to the movies. We used to ride our bikes to matinee games. Whether it was the Islanders, Ringling Brothers & Barnum Bailey Circus, Billy Joel or the Grateful Dead, going to the Nassau Coliseum was a “home” event.
Over the years, the 1972 state of the art facility was no longer a viable NHL option. The lack of corporate suites or even the proper number of bathroom facilities put a time clock on “The Old Barn” as many hockey fans refer to it. The Islanders rejoined their old building roommates, the Nets and moved to Barclays Center in Brooklyn after the 2014-15 season. That experiment was a disaster to the Islander fans that had little interest in following their team into the city. They wanted a home of their own. Little by little more games began getting played back at the Coliseum.
Maybe a building doesn’t have feelings but I know many that have feelings for it. Memories for a lifetime were made inside and outside. Tailgating in the parking lot for playoff games during their 4 consecutive Stanley Cup runs. Standing in the first row in front of Jerry Garcia for one of more than two dozen concerts that I’ve seen there. My dad taking me to see the circus for the very first time, awesome experiences that will not fade away.
Hopefully, someone preserves and renovates the Old Barn. I doubt it. In this day and age, they’ll just knock it down and do whatever with that vast piece of land. They may demolish the building but they can never erase the fun and excitement that was experienced in that very special oval structure. Thanks for everything!